Today I’d like to encourage you to take a critical look at your FACS classroom or office. Now ask yourself, “What does my work space say about my own image and the image of FACS?” The things we use to accessorize our homes and the areas where we work say a lot about how we see ourselves and the face we present to the rest of the world. Your classroom sends a very clear message about the image of FACS to every person who walks through your door. Like everything else we’ve discussed in the #Save FACS blog series, considered alone, classroom decor doesn’t seem very important. However, when we look it as part of the overall image of FACS, it takes on a new and greater significance.
Let me give you an example of FACS decor gone terribly wrong. A few years ago, I was asked to conduct a one-day workshop for some teachers based on one of the resources I had written. I was delighted to learn that the workshop would take place in a FACS classroom in a large high school. I was told that the classroom was well-equipped and that we would have lots of room for teachers to work on some of the hands-on activities I had planned.
When I arrived early to set up for the day’s activities, I was visually assaulted by so much clutter and disorganization that I could barely concentrate on the task at hand. The room more closely resembled a teenaged girl’s bedroom than a functioning FACS classroom. Every wall was covered in posters, pennants, instructional signs and other visual stimuli. Virtually all work surfaces were strewn with disorganized supplies and materials. The total chaos made me wonder how the students were able to concentrate long enough for real learning to take place.
I don’t mean for this example to sound as if I’m criticizing the FACS teacher who probably works quite effectively in that rather chaotic environment. In fact, the teacher to whom the classroom was assigned was energetic and personable. I only am concerned about the statement that such a work environment makes about the image of FACS.
The general public already thinks of our profession as being unnecessary and outdated. Don’t we simply reinforce that perception when we fail to make our classrooms look more like places where students come to play rather than learn? Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that FACS classrooms shouldn’t reflect the subject that we teach. What I am saying is that our classrooms should project an image of FACS as a subject to be taken seriously. How we equip and organize our classrooms to accomplish that task will be the subject of the blog posts tomorrow and Friday.
For today I’d like to ask you to do a little self assessment about how your classroom is organized, accessorized and arranged. If you will take a few minutes to mentally complete this short checklist, I think you will be better prepared to apply some of things I plan to share tomorrow.
- What’s the first thing a visitor to your classroom sees when he or she walks through your door?
- If there were no sign on your door, would students know what subject was taught in that room? (Note: Answering ‘yes’ to that question is not a bad thing!)
- Does your classroom decor say more about you or your subject matter?
- Is your classroom well organized and relatively neat?
- Are you making the best possible use of all areas of your classroom?
- Is your classroom caught in a time warp? Does it look more like 1973 or 2013?
- Are the posters and other wall accessories up-to-date and attractive?
- Does your classroom decor and layout facilitate current teaching and learning styles?
- Does your classroom reflect the integration of core content standards and district goals into your FACS curriculum?
- What does your FACS classroom say about the image of FACS? Does it represent an image that embraces the future or one that looks longingly on past glory?
I’m a big believer in assessment and evaluation, so I think that taking stock of everything we do and how we do it is always the first step to improvement. If we are truly going to raise the public image of FACS, no aspect of what we do is too inconsequential to be ignored. I hope this exercise in self assessment is useful and revealing. More tomorrow….